Blink XT2 Wireless Camera: A Cheaper Arlo Pro 2

What if you could take the Arlo Pro 2 1080p cameras, run on standard AA batteries instead of proprietary, significantly lower the price of entry, and potentially have a 2-year camera charge? You’d have the new Blink XT2! At least that’s the Blink sales pitch — and it could be close. Amazon-owned Blink announced the … Read more

Ring Smart Lighting First Impressions

Back in January, we broke the news of upcoming Ring outdoor smart lighting and related accessories. This new system was described at CES as a means to extend your existing Ring ecosystem by not only allowing for wireless lighting, but also motion detection. Both can then be integrated with Ring cameras to help capture any … Read more

Arlo Ultra First Look: A Mixed Bag

With the release of Arlo Ultra, the company has upped the ante with not only 4K video quality, but also some neat new features including HDR, color night mode, auto track and zoom. But this jump to higher resolution and feature enhancements has some initial teething problems. Having unboxed the Ultra (below), I began the … Read more

A Power User’s Guide To Cord Cutting

Fellow site contributor Adam Miarka has cycled through a ton a television technology in the years I’ve known him and I thought it’d be beneficial to share his current configuration. TL;DR: HDHomeRun Quatro, Mohu Leaf, Channels DVR, Synology DS218+, Infuse, Apple TV, iDevices I’d call Adam something of an inadvertent cord cutter, as he didn’t … Read more

Sleep Number: Bed Tech for your Smart Home

When it came time to choose a new mattress this past summer, I decided to wire up our bedroom with Sleep Number and Sleep IQ. Casper gets a whole lot of tech press, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear given their now commonplace bedding materials and a limited one-mattress-fits-all product lineup. Whereas I truly hoped to embrace technology as a potential means of enhancing our sleeping experience. Sleep Number seemed to fit the bill. And, four months in, we’re extremely satisfied with our decision.

After hours of research, including extensive and appreciated online pre-sales chat along with an impressive Consumer Reports’ endorsement, I ended up purchasing the entry-level Sleep Number C2 model with a SleepIQ upgrade. Interestingly, the same core components and functionality are found within all Sleep Number mattresses (that we’ll get to in a minute). What differs are things like padding and cover thickness or composition. Indeed, the Sleep Number C2 is Consumer Reports second highest rated bed… right behind the Sleep Number i8, but at 1/3rd the cost. Having replaced a pair of name brand mattresses the last few years, due to depressingly rapid deterioration, we’re appropriately conservative with ongoing bedding investments.

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HomeKit comes to Hue

01 new hue hub

Back in June, Philips announced that the Hue ecosystem would be compatible with Apple’s HomeKit. There was speculation if we’d need to purchase another Hue hub, or if the existing hub could be updated via software to support HomeKit. After plenty of leaks, and even a hands-on prior to launching, Philips has officially released a new Hue bridge to the masses.  Turns out that if you want HomeKit compatibility, you will need to purchase a new hub.  This falls inline with other vendors who have had to “relaunch” their products with updated hardware to meet Apple’s security requirements.  The good news for existing Hue customers though, is that Philips will offer a 33% discount to upgrade.  I won’t recap the physical changes to the new Hue hub as they are documented on multiple sites. What I want to do is walk thru the actual transfer process from the old Hue hub to the new one and some general observations, specifically around HomeKit and compatibility.

Transitioning from the old hub

The first thing you will need to do is make sure you have the latest Hue app. Philips released an updated version for earlier this week (iOS / Google Play) which supports transitioning hubs. Once updated, you will also need to make sure that the Hub itself has the latest firmware. You will be prompted to update automatically.

Philips has made it incredibly easy to transition bulbs and scenes from your old hub to the new one.   This is contrary to my Lutron experience which required me to unpair all lights/switches and repair them to the new hub. It can’t be understated how much this will make existing customers happy.

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Logitech Keys-To-Go vs MS Universal Mobile – Fight!

In preparation for the new features of iOS9, specifically around keyboard shortcuts, I thought it was time to finally figure out a keyboard solution for my iPad. After some research, I narrowed it down to either the Logitech Keys-to-Go and the Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard. Both keyboards are similar in terms of features and dedicated buttons for quickly accessing iPad functions. But in the end, I preferred one over the other.

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If you value how the keyboard “feels” when typing, the Keys To Go (K2G) are more responsive compared to the Microsoft Universal Mobile and the soft material makes the keys nicer to the touch. The K2G is water resistant if you decide to spill that drink on it at the office desk or pot of pasta sauce at the kitchen. :-) Also, the K2G has a physical on/off switch which I prefer. You know that the keyboard is actually off. The MS Universal, you turn if off by putting on the top cover which is kinda cool, but there are times when you wonder whether it’s really turned off.

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Meet Apple HomeKit, the hubless hub

What if the smart devices around your home could all interact with each other, even if they were from different manufacturers or different systems? Say your front door sensor could trigger a light to turn on in the living room when you get home. Currently, to get this kind of interoperability, you either need to acquire all the components of the same system (like Insteon), or have one agnostic hub that tries to “talk” all the different languages of the smart home landscape (like Staples Connect, SmartThings, and the dreadful Wink).

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What if there was another way? What if each of your home devices could speak the same langauge independent of manufacturer? An Elgato door sensor that opens when you get home could tell an Ecobee thermostat to turn house temp to 72 degrees. Or turning off a specific Lutron light switch in the bedroom could tell the August front door to lock?  That’s the promise of Apple’s HomeKit.

Much has been written already about HomeKit. But now that Apple is officially allowing vendors to start selling devices, we are finally starting to get a better understanding of what can and can’t be done with HomeKit. At first, my thought was that the iPhone now becomes the “hub” to control the devices of your home, but that was the wrong way to think about HomeKit.   HomeKit is much more far reaching.

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